4 out of 4 stars
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Savannah Dawson is a confident, intelligent, and unyielding twelve-year-old girl. Her father, Caleb Dawson, is a master whaler and captain of his whaling boat. She yearns to join and be part of the family trade and tradition. However, she is the first Dawson girl in three generations, meaning her father and relatives are overly protective. The twentieth-century Australian society also expected women to engage in domestic duties and not grueling activities as whaling. Furthermore, Savannah’s brothers, Eli and Asa, were killed while on a whaling expedition eight years back. This further fueled Caleb’s conviction to keep his daughter away from the family business.
As she dug deep in search of ways to convince her father, Savannah began to notice some contradictions in her family. One, her mother’s identity is a secret. She cannot recall her face and features, and no one is willing to enlighten or answer her questions. The boating accident that killed her brothers is also unclear, her father refuses to talk about it, and all she remembers are orcas. She grows to believe they are the reason for the accident and detests them. However, things take a different turn when she meets Calagun, an eccentric and mystical boy. They soon become close friends, and he helps her realize her abilities and worth beyond what society defined. She also embarks on a journey to discover the truth behind her family’s past and misfortunes. Her pursuits will take her through two distinct worlds of purity that will give her hope and human greed that will almost end her life.
The Whaler’s Daughter by Jerry Mikorenda is an engaging story that incorporates the Aboriginal culture, societal rules like gender roles, and a conservation message. Jerry intricately describes the characters, bringing out their unique attributes and personalities. Savannah has a striking physical appearance and an equally intense and resilient personality. The descriptions of the scenes and various settings are also vivid, allowing one to visualize and experience every word. For instance, the tense arguments between Savannah and her father as he tries to prevent her from whaling. The book also has humor and sarcasm through Savannah’s antics and defiance. For instance, when she was forced to comb her hair and lather her face with cream. She concluded that her forehead resembled a giant bulbous growth.
The strong female presence is my favorite aspect of the book. Savannah is the focal point, and she proves herself as gifted and capable of achieving what she seeks. She even empowers and inspires her female friends to yearn for more than just the domestic roles set out for them. The book is also authentically Australian, accurately depicting the cultural practices, norms, and language relevant to the time. However, it was awkward to read of the preteen girls talking of maturity and some having children. Additionally, the story might be more suitable for older teens and adults due to its comprehensive nature. It will require more effort for teens and preteens to follow and concentrate on the story.
The book’s editing is impeccable; I did not find any grammatical or spelling errors. The language is simple despite the accents and Australian phrases. The book also lacks any profane words or erotic depictions. The Whaler’s Daughter is a remarkable story about friendship and family bonds, coupled with mystery, thrill, and some extraordinary talents and abilities. It evokes various emotions in the reader, like grief, heartbreak, joy, and even wonder, as one follows Savannah’s journey. Therefore, the book deserves a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to young adults and children between the age of ten and sixteen, looking for a fun and profound adventure story with a perfect ending and numerous lessons.
The Whaler's Daughter
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